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This scandal should be investigated – and it’s not Russiagate

Special Counsel should look into the conduct of the US intelligence community and how it sought to swing the election to Hillary Clinton and away from Donald Trump

Alexander Mercouris

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In my last article on Russiagate I made known my continued doubts that the bureaucracy in Washington would ever agree to the wide-ranging investigation of the events of the US Presidential election which is now pressing.

To be clear, this investigation must go beyond Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s current narrow investigation into the allegations of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

Sixteen months after those claims first began to be investigated no evidence of such collusion has been found outside of the Trump Dossier, which even its compiler Christopher Steele now admits is not completely accurate (he now says it is “70-90% accurate”).

Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak, Jeff Sessions’s two meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak, Jared Kushner’s meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak (which as it turns out was misreported), Donald Trump Junior’s meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Carter Page’s various activities, and the indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, do not provide evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  On the contrary they evidence that no such collusion took place.

I am in full agreement with the independent blogger Caitlin Johnstone  that if any illegal collusion had taken place evidence for it would have been found long ago.

What the evidence points to is – as Jared Kushner has admitted – a chaotic and disorganised Trump campaign, incapable of carrying out any sort of secret or illegal collusion not just with the Russians but with anyone, with unpaid and junior staffers like George Papadopoulos and Carter Page amateurishly attempting – in one case enthusiastically, in the second case calculatedly – to do foreign policy with Russia all by themselves, without receiving guidance or encouragement from the Trump campaign.

Nothing those people who were genuinely close to Trump  – eg. Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, Sessions and Donald Trump Junior – did during the campaign looks to me wrong or improper.

By contrast, whilst there is no evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and no prospect of anyone finding such evidence, there is now abundant evidence that the US intelligence community, the Justice Department and the FBI were pulling out the stops during the election to help Hillary Clinton.  Consider:

(1) The FBI took it on itself to announce that there would be no prosecution of Hillary Clinton’s misuse of her private email server whilst Secretary of State, despite this being illegal and despite her wilful destruction of thousands of her emails which passed through her server.

This happened following a conversation between Bill Clinton – Hillary Clinton’s husband – and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which former FBI Director James Comey admits was improper.

The decision not to proceed to a prosecution was moreover announced by former FBI Director James Comey in a manner which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Justice Department admit was also improper.

(2) The FBI did not undertake its own independent forensic investigation of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers following Hillary Clinton’s, the DNC’s and John Podesta’s complaints of Russian hacking of those computers.

Instead it accepted Hillary Clinton’s, the DNC’s and John Podesta’s assertion that the Russians had hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers, even though this assertion is based on nothing more than the opinion of a private expert – Crowdstrike – which was paid to provide its opinion by the DNC.

Having accepted Hillary Clinton’s, the DNC’s and John Podesta’s assertion that the Russians had hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers, the FBI thereafter did none of the things which a proper investigation of the hacking claims would have required..

The FBI did not for example insist on on being given access to the computers or seek a warrant to obtain possession of the computers; nor did the FBI draw any inference from the refusal of the DNC and John Podesta to allow it access to their computers; nor did the FBI interview any of the relevant witnesses, such as the staff of the DNC, Julian Assange, Craig Murray and the staff of Wikileaks.

(3) As Joe Lauria has pointed out, there is now compelling evidence that the original allegations of illegal collusion by the Trump campaign with the Russians originate with the Trump Dossier, which it has now been confirmed was paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

There is now also compelling evidence that it was the ‘information’ in this Dossier which was used to obtain FISA warrants which led to the surveillance of Paul Manafort and Carter Page and possibly of others during the election campaign.

Since the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community refuse to discuss the Trump Dossier publicly, or the extent of their reliance on it, and will not say what evidence was provided to the FISA court to obtain the FISA warrants, it is not known whether the FISA court was told when the FISA warrants were applied for that the information upon which the applications were  based apparently originated in a Dossier paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

(4) Though the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community have presumably known from the outset that the Trump Dossier was paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, Trump was not told this when as President elect he was first shown the Dossier by former FBI Director Comey during the meeting between Trump and the intelligence chiefs on 6th January 2017.

Though the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community have presumably known from the outset that the Trump Dossier was paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, they did not disclose this important fact either to the American people or to Congressional investigators, with this key fact only becoming known in the last few weeks as a result of the enquiries of the Congressional investigators.

Nor do the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community seem to have drawn any inferences from the fact that the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted to keep their role in paying for the Trump Dossier secret.

I would add that if the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community did not in fact know that the Trump Dossier was paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, then that would prove a grossly incompetent and biased investigation.

It ought to be the first order of business when considering ‘evidence’ of the sort purportedly provided by the Trump Dossier to find out who had paid for it.  It would beg a host of questions if this was not done.

(6) The use of FISA warrants to undertake surveillance of persons involved in the Trump campaign during the election to an extent which has still not been fully disclosed was anyway inherently abusive.

FISA is not supposed to be used to carry out surveillance of US citizens.  Rather it is supposed to be used to enable surveillance of the agents of foreign powers.  That is why its full title is Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”).

In this case all the safeguards seem to have been thrown to the winds.  Though it is legally possible to undertake ‘incidental surveillance’ of US citizens caught by surveillance carried out under FISA warrants (so called “warrantless surveillance”) in this case there seems to be little doubt that Manafort and Carter Page were actually specifically targeted.

Former FBI Director Comey moreover admitted to President Trump – and it has been admitted repeatedly since – that Trump himself is not the target of the Russiagate investigation, and it is denied that he was ever a surveillance target.

Given that this is so why was it necessary to place anyone under surveillance at all?  Why did the Justice Department, the FBI and the US intelligence community not simply inform Trump during the election that there were serious concerns about the activities of some members of his campaign and invite him to take the necessary action?

Why instead of taking that obvious – and obviously appropriate – step which might have led to the individuals in question being removed from the campaign – was a campaign of secret surveillance undertaken instead?

Was it because the true intention was not to protect the integrity of the election but rather to undertake secret surveillance of the Trump campaign in the hope that this would unearth something which could be used either to prevent Donald Trump being elected or to provide grounds for his impeachment if he was elected?

(7) Just a few weeks before the election the US intelligence community published a fact-free and tortuously worded statement alleging Russian meddling in the election by implication on Donald Trump’s behalf.

Why was that done instead of the step discussed in (6) given that releasing a statement of that kind would clearly have an influence on the outcome of the election and might therefore constitute a violation of the Hatch Act (former FBI Director Comey refused to sign it for precisely that reason)?

(8) After the election members of the US intelligence community leaked to the media classified details of a secretly recorded conversation between Michael Flynn – President elect Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser – and Russian ambassador Kislyak.

As has been admitted, nothing inappropriate was actually said during this conversation.  However the leak of details of this conversation was used to force Michael Flynn to resign.

As was pointed out at the time, and as has been pointed out since, and as has never in fact been denied, the leaking of the classified details of this conversation in a way that identified Michael Flynn was a serious criminal offence under the FISA act.

That fact does not however seem to have weighed on those within the US intelligence community who leaked this information or on their superiors.  To date no-one appears to have been punished or prosecuted for it.

In any properly functioning democracy all of the above ought to be a cause of very serious concern.

It is very bad if during an election members of a campaign illegally conspire with a foreign power in order to win the election.  However – to repeat again – there is no evidence that during the 2016 election that actually took place.

It is however arguably even worse when the intelligence and security agencies of a country interfere in the conduct of an election in order to swing the outcome of the election from one candidate to another.

It becomes a matter of still greater concern if the intelligence and security agencies of that country act in concert with the party of the defeated candidate that they supported to orchestrate a media campaign vilifying the candidate they opposed because despite their efforts he won the election, and conduct a bogus investigation of phoney collusion allegations in order to put pressure on him and to discredit him and in order to conceal their own activities.

In such a situation one must question whether the country where such things are happening is any longer a democracy at all.

This however is the extremely dangerous situation in which the American Republic now finds itself.

The need for someone to look into all of this and to find out what really happened during the 2016 election would appear to be obvious.

I would add that it is by no means impossible that serious criminal offences were committed over the course of the election, which because of the diversion of time and resources into investigating the phoney Trump campaign/Russian collusion allegations are not being investigated.

These could include all or any of the following:

(1) Possible obstruction of justice arising from Hillary Clinton’s destruction of 30,000 emails which passed through her private email server;

(2) Obstruction of justice arising from the DNC’s refusal to allow the FBI access to its computers;

(3) Violations of constitutional provisions in the event that the FISA warrants were improperly used and obtained;

(4) Violations of the Hatch Act, which specifically prohibits any US government official from

[using] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election

(5) last but by no means least, the straightforward and indisputable crime of the leaking of classified information to force the resignation of Michael Flynn.

The above list of possible crimes is not intended to be exhaustive.  Other crimes may have been committed as well.  I am not in a position to say.  An investigator commissioned to look into this affair might however find more.

Of course if there was collusion between the Democrats and the US intelligence community which led to any one of the above crimes being committed then that would be a very serious matter indeed.  The US would then have a serious constitutional crisis on its hands.  However it is important to say that at the moment there is no evidence of this.

However enough is already known about what went on during the 2016 election to give rise to very serious concerns.  Loud alarm bells ought to be ringing.  It is alarming that they are not or if they are that people seem to be deaf to them.

The problem is that far too many important people are compromised by this affair, making it completely unsurprising that calls for the appointment of another Special Counsel to look into their activities is running into fierce resistance.

Thus in Congressional testimony Attorney General Sessions appeared to push back on suggestions that another Special Counsel should be appointed, whilst a meeting between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and William Binney, the former NSA official behind the recent VIPS report which has cast doubt on the Russian hacking claims, seems to have resulted in nothing.

Nonetheless the proposal for the appointment of another Special Counsel is now out in the open, though in my opinion some of its advocates are not helping matters by asking that the new Special Counsel be instructed to look into the Uranium One case.  Whilst there may be a scandal buried deep inside that tangled case, it has no connection to the 2016 election, which is where the focus of any expanded investigation by Special Counsel should lie.

As I have attempted to show in this article, there is actually a huge amount connected to the 2016 election for a Special Counsel to look into.  If another Special Counsel is ever appointed – and the job calls for a top constitutional law expert such as a Supreme Court Justice, not a former police investigator like Mueller – he or she will have their hands full, and should not be burdened with a sideshow like Uranium One.

I will not pretend that I have any very great hopes that such a Special Counsel will be appointed.  On the contrary the odds are heavily against it.

However anyone who genuinely cares about the future of democracy in the US ought to be demanding it.

Since there are still such people in the US, I for one am not yet willing to give up hope.  Presumably there are still people in America who remember that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

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The ‘Gilets Jaunes’ Are Unstoppable: “Now, The Elites Are Afraid”

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms.

The Duran

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Authored by Christophe Guilluy via Spiked-Online.com:


The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement has rattled the French establishment. For several months, crowds ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets every weekend across the whole of France. They have had enormous success, extracting major concessions from the government. They continue to march.

Back in 2014, geographer Christopher Guilluy’s study of la France périphérique (peripheral France) caused a media sensation. It drew attention to the economic, cultural and political exclusion of the working classes, most of whom now live outside the major cities. It highlighted the conditions that would later give rise to the yellow-vest phenomenon. Guilluy has developed on these themes in his recent books, No Society and The Twilight of the Elite: Prosperity, the Periphery and the Future of Francespiked caught up with Guilluy to get his view on the causes and consequences of the yellow-vest movement.

spiked: What exactly do you mean by ‘peripheral France’?

Christophe Guilluy: ‘Peripheral France’ is about the geographic distribution of the working classes across France. Fifteen years ago, I noticed that the majority of working-class people actually live very far away from the major globalised cities – far from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and also very far from London and New York.

Technically, our globalised economic model performs well. It produces a lot of wealth. But it doesn’t need the majority of the population to function. It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.

They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else.

spiked: What is the role of culture in the yellow-vest movement?

Guilluy: Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.

The Brexit vote had a lot to do with culture, too, I think. It was more than just the question of leaving the EU. Many voters wanted to remind the political class that they exist. That’s what French people are using the gilets jaunes for – to say we exist. We are seeing the same phenomenon in populist revolts across the world.

spiked: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.

spiked: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people. Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling. Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.

A lot has been made of the fact that the yellow vests’ demands vary a great deal. But above all, it’s a demand for democracy. Fundamentally, they are democrats – they want to be taken seriously and they want to be integrated into the economic order.

spiked: How can we begin to address these demands?

Guilluy: First of all, the bourgeoisie needs a cultural revolution, particularly in universities and in the media. They need to stop insulting the working class, to stop thinking of all the gilets jaunes as imbeciles.

Cultural respect is fundamental: there will be no economic or political integration until there is cultural integration. Then, of course, we need to think differently about the economy. That means dispensing with neoliberal dogma. We need to think beyond Paris, London and New York.

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US Blunders Have Made Russia The Global Trade Pivot

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead

The Duran

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Authored by Mathew Maavak via ActivistPost.com:


The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this figure into perspective, Asian behemoths India and China – despite their vast shorelines – recorded only 2 cases of piracy each during the study period. Russia had none. In terms of hostages taken, the IMB tally read 102 in H1 2018 vs 63 in H1 2017.

Piracy adds to shipping and retail costs worldwide as security, insurance and salaries are hiked to match associated risks in maritime transport. Merchant vessels will also take longer and costlier routes to avoid piracy hotspots.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2016 sums up the perils ahead:

As over 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling. Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances.  These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Indeed, cases of human trafficking, organ harvesting, and the smuggling of illicit substances and counterfeit goods are proliferating worldwide in tandem with rising systemic debt and suspect international agendas.

Australia offers a case in point. While it fantasizes over a Quad of allies in the Indo-Pacific – to “save Asians from China” – criminal elements from Hong Kong, Malaysia to squeaky-clean Singapore have been routinely trafficking drugs, tobacco and people right into Sydney harbour for years,  swelling the local organised crime economy to as much as $47.4 billion (Australian dollars presumably) between 2016 and 2017.

With criminal elements expected to thrive during a severe recession, they will likely enjoy a degree of prosecutorial shielding from state actors and local politicians. But this is not a Southeast Asian problem alone; any superpower wishing to disrupt Asia-Europe trade arteries – the main engine of global growth – will have targets of opportunity across oceans and lands.  The US-led war against Syria had not only cratered one potential trans-Eurasia energy and trade node, it served as a boon for child traffickingorgan harvesting and slavery as well. Yet, it is President Bashar al-Assad who is repeatedly labelled a “butcher” by the Anglo-American media.

Ultimately, industries in Asia and Europe will seek safer transit routes for their products. The inference here is inevitable: the greatest logistical undertaking in history – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – will be highly dependent on Russian security umbrella, particularly in Central Asia. Russia also offers an alternative transit option via the Northern Sea Route, thereby avoiding any potential pan-Turkic ructions in Central Asia in the future.

Russo- and Sinophobia explained?

In retrospect, Washington’s reckless policies post-Sept 11 2001 seem aimed at disrupting growing synergies between Asia and Europe. This hypothesis helps explain the relentless US-led agitprops against Russia, China and Iran.

When the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests rocked France weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before some pundits blamed it on Russia. US President Donald J. Trump cheered on; just as “billionaire activist” George Soros celebrated the refugee invasion of Europe and the Arab Spring earlier.  If the yellow vest contagion spreads to the Western half of Europe, its economies will flounder. Cui bono? A Russia that can reap benefits from the two-way BRI or Arctic trade routes or a moribund United States that can no longer rule roost in an increasingly multipolar world?

Trump’s diplomatic downgrade of the European Union and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline matches this trade-disruption hypothesis, as do pressures applied on India and China to drop energy and trade ties with Iran.  Washington’s trade war with Beijing and recent charges against Huawei – arguably Asia’s most valuable company – seem to fit this grand strategy.

If China concedes to importing more US products, Europe will bear the consequences. Asians love European products ranging from German cars to Italian shoes and Europe remains the favourite vacation destination for its growing middle class. Eastern European products and institutions are also beginning to gain traction in Asia. However, these emerging economies will suffer if their leaders cave in to Washington’s bogeyman fetish.

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough – at least theoretically – to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead.

In the meantime, as the US-led world crumbles, it looks like Russia is patiently biding its time to become the security guarantor and kingmaker of Asia-Europe trade.  A possible state of affairs wrought more by American inanity rather than Russian ingenuity…

Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.

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Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future

The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Elias Samo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:

  1. Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
  1. Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
  1. Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
  1. One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.

The potential demise of historic Eastern Christianity is reflected in the key question Christians ask: should we stay or emigrate? The urgent question – in the face of the ongoing regional turmoil – precipitated with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and escalated since the Arab uprisings in 2011. Historic Eastern Christians’ fears were further magnified when Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, both of metropolitan Aleppo, were kidnapped on April, 22, 2013; with no traces of their whereabouts, dead or alive, since. For many years, I was deputy, friend, and advisor to the Archbishop Ibrahim, which provided me an opportunity to meet many Christians. I have, over time, noticed the change in their sentiment, with more considering emigration after the uprising and the kidnapping of the two Archbishops. Historic Eastern Christians survived the Ottoman Genocide in 1915 and thereafter; they multiplied and thrived in the Fertile Crescent despite some atrocities until the start of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in early 2011. Prior to the “Arab Spring”, historic Eastern Christians were victims of violence on several occasions. In the mid-1930s, the historic Assyrian community in Iraq suffered violent onslaughts and were driven to Syria. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War, Christians were victims of sectarian violence. During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians were victims of widespread sectarian violence which led to mass migration. The “Arab Spring” began with great hope for the right of the people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. However, it was swiftly hijacked by Islamists and Salafists and turned into an “Islamic Spring, an Arab Fall and a Christian Winter”; bringing along with it a new massacre of Christians. Presently, Eastern Christianity is at the mercy of clear and identifiable domestic, regional, and international, historic and contemporary conflicts in the Fertile Crescent, namely:

  1. Jihad vs. Ijtihad: A long standing conflict amongst Muslims between the sword vs. the pen.
  2. Sunni vs. Shiite: A conflict which began following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Arabism vs. Islamism: The former has territorial limitations, the later has no territorial limitations.
  4. Syria vs. Israel: It is an essential component of the Palestinian problem, not the presumed Arab- Israeli conflict.
  5. West vs. East: A throwback to the Cold War, or its revival.
  6. Historic Persian, Ottoman and Arab Empires animosities: Each seeking regional hegemony.

One is reminded of the proverbial saying, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Certainly, Eastern Christianity is suffering and threatened with extinction.

Syria was a model of religious tolerance, common living and peaceful interaction amongst its religious, sectarian, cultural and ethnic components. Seven years of turmoil, in which various international and regional powers manipulated segments of Syrian society by supplying them with an abundance of weapons, money and sectarian ideologies, has heightened Eastern Christians’ fears. During the seven-year turmoil in Syria, the entire society has suffered; Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others. Christians, being a weak and peaceful component of the society, have suffered immensely. Ma’aloula; a religious treasure for Christians globally, and the only city in the world where Aramaic – the language of Jesus Christ – is spoken, was attacked and besieged by ISIS. Numerous historic Churches were damaged, and many destroyed. Christians in Raqqa were forced by ISIS into one of three options: 1. Pay a penalty in pure gold – known as a ‘Jizya’ to keep their life and practice their faith – albeit in secret only; 2. Convert into Islam; or 3. Face immediate death. To top their pain, the kidnap of the two prominent Archbishops meant no Eastern Christian believer was safe.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, there remains hope. The survival of Christianity depends on the actions and reactions of three parties:

Eastern Christians: During the last hundred years, 1915-2015, since the Ottoman Genocide, Eastern Christians have been victims of a history of massacres, which meant that every Eastern Christian was a martyr, a potential martyr or a witness of martyrdom; if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me. The ongoing regional turmoil has heightened their sense of insecurity. The answer to an age-old question Eastern Christians had on their mind: To flee Westwards or remain in their land, in the face of death, is increasingly becoming the former.

Eastern Muslims: There is a difference in perceptions between Eastern Christians and mainstream Muslims regarding the massacres committed against Christians. When certain violent groups or individuals kill Christians, while shouting a traditional Islamic profession: “No God but one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger”, it is reasonable for Christians to assume the killers are Muslims. However, for mainstream Muslims, the killers do not represent Islam; they are extremists, violating basic Islamic norms such as Muhammad’s sayings, “Whoever hurts a Thummy – Christian or Jew – has hurt me”, “no compulsion in religion” and other Islamic norms regarding just treatment of people of the Book; Christians and Jews. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Muslim elites to impress upon their fellow Muslims that:

a. The three monotheistic religions believe in one God and all ‘faithfuls’ are equal in citizenship, rights and duties.

b. Christians participated in the rise of Arab Islamic civilization. They were pioneers in the modern Arab renaissance and they joined their Muslim brethren in resisting the Crusades, the Ottomans and Western colonialism.

c. Christians are natives of the land and they provide cultural, religious, educational, and economic, diversity.

d. Christians are a positive link between the Muslims and the Christian West, particularly in view of the rise of Islamophobia. Massacres of Christians and their migration provide a pretext for the further precipitation of Islamophobia.

e. Civilization is measured by the way it treats its minorities.

The Christian West: The Crusades, Western colonialism, creation and continued support of Israel, support of authoritarian Arab political systems, military interventions, regime change, and the destabilization of Arab states made Muslims view Eastern Christians ‘guilty by association’. The Christian West helped Jews come to Palestine to establish Israel. Shouldn’t the same Christian West also help Eastern Christians remain in their homeland, rather than facilitate their emigration? Western Christians, particularly Christian Zionists, believe that the existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Jesus to his homeland. However, it would be a great disappointment for Jesus to return to his homeland, Syria and not find any of his followers.

Prior to 2011, Eastern Christian religious leaders were encouraging Syrian Christians in the diaspora to return to Syria, their homeland, where life was safe and secure with great potential. Now, the same leaders are desperately trying to slow down Christian emigration. Eastern Christians’ loud cries for help to remain are blowing in the wind.

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The Duran Newsletter

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